Friday, February 16, 2007

Missing Egypt

In the past few weeks I made a few new friends. One of them is an egyptian canadian who lived all his life in Canada but came to Egypt for university. I know, Egypt is not the number one in University education but my guess is his parents wanted him to live in a more "conservative" society. Yeah, right.

He is returning to Canada next year. So out of curiosity I asked:
"Sotell me what is the thing you will miss most about Egypt"
Him "Nothing"
Me "That can't be right. There has to be at least one thing you'll miss"
Him "Nope, not really"
Me "Wow you spent 5 years in a place and you won't miss anything at all?"
Him "Exactly"

This conversation got me thinking about the things I will miss in Egypt as a country without including family and friends.

1- Felouka:
I love the idea of felouka (little sail boat). Sailing in the middle of Cairo, finding a strange calmness in all the madness of the capital. Parking is a bitch, that's true. But after those 2 hours I feel like it's all worth it. I usually go with friends spending all the time taking pictures, great souvenirs. And I think it's also very romantic, I've never been on a date there but I think it's an amaizing idea.

2- Wallking in korba
Korba is an area in Heliopolis. It's supposed to be the market for the neighbourhood. I adore it. I love the feel of the place. I love the shops; the cafes, the florist, the bookshops,... simply all of it. It's architecture is a mix between islamic and european, it has a strange ancient but hip feel to it. Nothing beats it.

3- Strangers
Once my car broke in the middle of a very busy street. I had just got my licence and I had no idea what to do. An old guy got out of his car and gave me water and a truck driver opened the hood and the thing was boiling, he was risking his life I'm serious. They don't know who I am and didn't wait for a thank you, they did that because they can. How amaizing is that?

I'm sure there is more I'll miss but these are my top 3.

17 Comments:

Blogger Maryanne Stroud Gabbani said...

Well, depending where you go next, it's pretty likely that you might miss the wonderful vegetables all winter or the mangoes in the summer and you'll miss the prices for sure. I find that I really miss hearing the call to prayer and knowing what time it is without having to look at my watch if I travel for longer than a couple of weeks. A young friend of mine who went to Boston after three years in Cairo wrote back that she found Boston nice and organised, but she missed the loopiness of Cairo...Loopiness is such a good word for this city. Everything does loop around, under and in between.

I feel sorry for your friend that there would be nothing he'd miss. What a chilly five years he's spent and how much time he must have spent either angry or sad not to have let the basic crazy joy in life that is Egypt not infect him.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

I miss the call of prayer too. A few years back when I was in Canada I heard one at almost 1am. I was in my bed and had to go down to the living room to see what's that. I found my parents watching Malcom X, the part where he went to Egypt. I had butterflies.

I was really sad for the guy. Nobody helped him understand the beauty of Cairo. The chaotic, noisy, dirty, friendly, old, new,... It's what makes it so special

8:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot believe anyone can spend even a week in Cairo and not miss it! I cried for 3 days before I left, my first trip there. I definitely was hooked on its vivacious energy, the call to prayer, the constant noise and the taxi cab drivers, whom I can only compare to be as daring and fabulous as New York City cab drivers! I've never tasted mango juice as delicious as Cairo's, specially the freshly squeezed nectar sold in Khan el Khalili ... and the sugar cane juice - heavenly. Give me koushery anytime - it is the taste that let's me know I am close to heaven! Every time I have returned, and had to leave, again, I miss Cairo even more! I, too, miss the kindness of strangers; Sitting by the road side, in mid afternoon, on Muhammed Ali street, to sip hot tea and share an apple scented smoke from the sheesha ... An offering, to "take a load off" and relax, from a complete stranger, just because I was left waiting for a friend, who had entered a nearby couture shop to pick up a garment ... I miss Cairo with my whole being and all my senses ... And mostly, because that is where I met my beloved husband ...

11:42 PM  
Anonymous Basboussa said...

I cannot believe anyone can spend even a week in Cairo and not miss it! I cried for 3 days before I left, my first trip there. I definitely was hooked on its vivacious energy, the call to prayer, the constant noise and the taxi cab drivers, whom I can only compare to be as daring and fabulous as New York City cab drivers! I've never tasted mango juice as delicious as Cairo's, specially the freshly squeezed nectar sold in Khan el Khalili ... and the sugar cane juice - heavenly. Give me koushery anytime - it is the taste that let's me know I am close to heaven! Every time I have returned, and had to leave, again, I miss Cairo even more! I, too, miss the kindness of strangers; Sitting by the road side, in mid afternoon, on Muhammed Ali street, to sip hot tea and share an apple scented smoke from the sheesha ... An offering, to "take a load off" and relax, from a complete stranger, just because I was left waiting for a friend, who had entered a nearby couture shop to pick up a garment ... I miss Cairo with my whole being and all my senses ... And mostly, because that is where I met my beloved husband ...

11:48 PM  
Blogger Alina said...

I think your friend's reaction is typical of people doing something they don't really want. Being sent somewhere for reasons you don't agree with for example.

Loved the things you chose. I am surely going to experience as many as I can the first time I visit Egypt.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Safa said...

For me, there is so much to miss. Although I'm not planning on leaving....well...Allah knows. But definately mangos was a good point! I love those little "fas" ones. OMG! We actually have a mango tree at our villa...but the ones that grow on it are HUGE.....

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Ibrahim said...

This is kinda funny. I am sitting here in my fancy Madison Ave office and I just felt home sick, so I typed “Missing Egypt” in the Google bar and I ended up reading your blog.

I miss Egypt, even thou I hated it there, I bet if I was there right now I would hate it too, but for now I am enjoying my bitter sweet taste of home sickness.

9:47 PM  
Blogger ahmad said...

ٌyes....
Walking in Korba...
and eating yogurt ice cream...
:)

6:15 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

zabadi bel toot from Kewedar :)
yum

11:46 AM  
Anonymous Moghul said...

I recently went to Sharm el Sheikh and visited the pyramids in Giza and spend the day in Cairo, hated it absolutely hated it, it was smelly, dirty, polluted, congested and could not believe how bad it was, no actually I knew before I went. I am originally from Bangladesh although I grew up in England and I thought Bangladesh was poor and dirty but Cairo being the capital and all is worse. Just the airport nearly made me sick they could have at least kept that part of the country clean. Not a good firt impression. I will be returning to Sharm as I have and apartment in Naama Bay but I don't think I will be going Cairo again.

2:43 AM  
Blogger Eve said...

I'm sorry for your experience moghul. Cairo is an acquired taste. And even I sometimes hate it. But it has beautiful things. You just need a better guide... And you are absolutely right about the airport. It's awful... But they're renewing it, so maybe there's hope.

4:53 PM  
Anonymous wf said...

Missing Egypt ... Let me see ...

I'm planning to leave Egypt next month, and part from the family and friends ... I don't think I'll miss Egypt.

Mangos & eating yogurt ice cream have nothing to do with missing Egypt.
COME ON,they aren't Egypt specific and even if they are, you can get them anywhere.

Maybe the spirit is what I'll miss, -the -somehow- tender spirit- but its hard to find these days, its vanishing, I can find more broken souls and spirits.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Nostalgic... said...

wf, I guess I can understand.
I left Egypt 26 years ago and it was so so hard... I tried to go there every single time it was possible. I missed everything, even the things I didn't care for; I started to listen to egyptian music everyday... I missed everything, the sun, the sea, my Hélioplis, my friends, my family all the sounds and smells...
I still go quite often but everytime it's a kind of scock and instead of crying when I leave, I cry when I arrive: everything is so so different: people, places, sounds...
I am not anymore able to cross the street! I find it awful...
People instead of the typical "nokat" and their sense of humour are always Angry...
Even the desert and the Red Sea are not anymore the same.
However, I still hope that our beloved EGYPT will be once more as it used to be...

7:21 PM  
Anonymous kamar el zaman said...

I just went across this like Ibrahim, I wrote I miss Cairo, and taránnnnn: here I am! I miss Cairo so much! I have no words to express how I feel.... I love my country, and have been in Europe and US many times, but Cairo calls me always back..... I really miss it!

10:29 PM  
Blogger musti said...

Like Ibrahim posted up there I googled missing Egypt and I ended up here.
I have lived all my life in Egypt and didn't appreciate it much due to political, social and lifestyle challenges at some point.
My job has taken me to different places and mostly Africa (currently in Lagos, Nigeria). I'm telling you, nothing compares to Egypt really, in addition to your three points (which I can relate to very well). I miss the food, my mum's food hmm my God! and it is actually a safe country I can drive at 3 am or even take a walk and don't even think about it. I cannot take a cab here in daylight!
Whether it is Cairo, Sinai, or Alex. I do love this country, there is no place like home really.
I have been checking this out everyday http://www.egypt.travel lol

4:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, like some of the other people on here, i was missing cairo so i googled those words.
I spent two years in cairo studying arabic; i came back 2 weeks ago and boy do i miss it! The craziness, the kindness of strangers, the frankness of egyptian people and their acceptance of you, the safety - you can walk anywhere, anytime and feel totally safe - the call to prayer, the trust they place in god, the ubiquitious juice bars and most of all....the wonderful, special friends that i made their. I dream and dream of cairo, one day i will return, god willing

3:02 AM  
Anonymous العاب فلاش said...

well done

1:03 PM  

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